WAR OF THE WORLDS Pt 2
Sony Music International Japan
H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds is a literary masterpiece, one of my favourite books, which has been a controversial radio drama performed by Orson Welles in 1938, has been filmed many times for both cinema and TV and has also been used as an inspiration for several concept albums, starting with Jeff Wayne’s in 1978 which was then turned into a theatrical musical. Michael Romero’s Part 1, to my knowledge, was the first Prog Metal interpretation and it was well received and reviewed by the critics; ‘technical and cinematic, a superb blend of classical music and Romero’s particular style of playing’ I seem to remember writing at the time.
That was four years ago and now we have Part 2. John Macaluso is back again on drums as is John ‘JD’ DeServio on bass but this time the vocals are handled by Dino Jelusick who recently made news when it was announced he had joined Whitesnake as a backing vocalist. There are motifs from the first album in the opening track, a short introduction that links the two albums together but it must be said, in that short introduction, Michael has put together a superb piece of orchestral work which jumps straight into the band in full flight. This album is heavier but not so much as to separate it from the previous one and often the heavier parts are offset by Jelusick’s vocals which are more melodic.
The two-disc set is comprised of the album on Disc 1 and an instrumental version of the album on Disc 2. The album actually ends with track 11, Brave New World (Outro) but there are two additional tracks included, both of which are excellent. They fit the narrative of the story but Michael was right to leave them out of the album per se as they would interrupt the flow. For the Japanese release, Michael has included a version of the Godzilla theme and the English and Japanese booklets are both 12 pages.
In this music, Michael has evoked the feel of the book, something that is sadly lacking in many of the other media interpretations of the story and whilst Jelusick’s vocals bring parts of the story to life, I have to admit I preferred the instrumental disc as I could imagine the parts of the story better but that’s just me coming from an English literature background. For you out-and-out Metal fans out there, you are going to love this and if you are not familiar with the book, I suggest you buy a copy and read it whilst nibbling on a selection of cheese and sipping a fine wine after which, listening to this will take your enjoyment to another level.
Introduction – Part II
Divide & Conquer
Just Before the Dawn
Brave New World (Outro)
The Perfect Weapon
Alien Death Ray
Godzilla (Bonus track for Japan)
As above but instrumental.
REVEL IN TIME
Sony Music International Japan
If, like me, you generally approach Prog Metal albums with a bit of caution (as I never know if they are going to be more Prog or Metal), then you need to listen to Revel In Time, the third album from Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One. It is a monstrous line-up of talent and virtuosity and what’s more, has a crystal-clear production and mix that lets all that musicianship come shining through. It’s also 50/50 Prog and Metal.
After a synth beginning, the opening track becomes a furiously paced guitar/keyboards duet before the first of the eleven guest vocalists, in this case Unleash The Archers’ Brittney Slayes steps in and steals the song for her own. Michael Romero also joins in the fun with a perfectly weighted guitar solo looking to upstage Brittney but she’s not giving in and unleashes a final note that ends the track – you are left unconsciously holding your breath.
The tone is set for the rest of the album. Some tracks feature keyboards more than guitars and vice versa. On the Prog side, there are quiet moments, explosions of proficiency, layered vocals, odd time signatures; for the Metal part, there are detuned and standard pitch guitars, riffs both classic and modern, simple and over-the-top drumming, tasteful and ridiculously fast solos. There’s an awful lot happening on this album but it is all in its right place. The vocalists and guitarists are perfectly suited to the melodies and solo spots they are given, each performing to the track rather than trying to overshadow it and I will mention again the production and mix as they do let every guest step to the front and let them do what we all know they can do. The entire album is held together of course by Arjen’s guitar and bass work and Ed Warby’s drums which gives it its continuity.
The standard issue release has a second disc. It is the same as the first except that it has different vocalists performing the songs so you can pick and choose your own favourite performances. All in all, well over two hours of music for your money and for the Japanese edition, there is an additional track with yet another alternate vocal and all this music comes in a double disc jewel case with 20-page English booklet and a 16-page Japanese one. Of course, no Prog Rock album of any sub-genre would be complete without a mystical other-world piece of artwork and Jef Bertels provides one of those ‘the longer you look, the more you see’ pieces. As with the music, the artwork will intrigue both Prog and Metal fans. Perfect.
Fate of Man
28 Days (Till the End of Time)
Back from the Past
Revel in Time
The Year of '41
Bridge of Life
Today is Yesterday
A Hand on the Clock
Beyond the Edge of it All
Lost Children of the Universe
As above but with different singers
Lost Children of the Universe Version 3 (Bonus track for Japan)